Laura Sandor

March 23, 2021

International design competition launched to intervene in borders

CBDX: BORDERLANDS brings political, geological, social and other boundaries into sharp focus

Calgary, AB – The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) at the University of Calgary has launched its second international design ideas competition, asking: How can designers intervene in borders?

Borders are spaces of transition. Whether political and imposed through human agency, or natural and made manifest through geographical features, borders are associated with civilization’s greatest challenges. How we choose to choreograph and intersect these transitional spaces will reveal much about our priorities.

The competition asks entrants to consider the opportunities, challenges and complexities latent within borders and propose new paradigms. Participants can choose any type of border, define a friction that presents a programmatic opportunity, and propose a design that impacts the agents (human or otherwise) that are affected, influenced, or in proximity to that border.

“As humanity wakes from the immobility that has been imposed by the pandemic, the relationships that govern our world will look much different than those of just one year ago. In this transitionary phase to new tomorrows, borderlands hold immense potential as microcosms of civilization. This competition tackles a timely topic that seeks to examine urgent questions.”

- Alberto de Salvatierra, assistant professor with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape and CBDX chair.

Converging crises over the past year including the global pandemic, racial divides, geo-political conflict and the climate emergency demand a clear focus on society’s challenges and vulnerabilities.

“Confronted with an unprecedented number of calamities and injustices, we need to reconsider how design can challenge the nature of borders and participate in their reconsideration. We have a responsibility to understand and shepherd positive future change that questions and potentially bridges these lines of division. We’re pleased with the ideas generated from our previous competition, CITIES FOR ALL, which speculated on new approaches for equitable, diverse and inclusive cities; we challenge everyone — including designers, planners, policy-makers, humanitarians and social scientists — to respond to the global condition of borderlands.”

- Dr. John L. Brown, PhD, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

The competition offers $6,000 in prizes and the deadline for submissions is June 21, 2021. The international, interdisciplinary jury will announce the winning entries on September 8, 2021.


  • Luis Callejas, Director and Founder, LCLA Office (Medellin, Colombia) and Professor of Landscape Architecture, Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Oslo, Norway)
  • Danika Cooper, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley (Berkeley, USA)
  • Clare Lyster, Founder and Principal, CLUAA and Associate Professor of Architecture, UIC School of Architecture (Chicago, USA)
  • Dima Rachid, Founding Partner, Studio Libani and Lecturer at the American University of Beirut (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • Lola Sheppard, Founding Partner, Lateral Office (Toronto, Canada) and Professor, University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Canada)
  • Rania Ghosn, Founding Partner, Design Earth and Associate Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, MIT (Cambridge, USA)
  • Niall Kirkwood, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Technology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Harvard GSD (Cambridge, USA)
  • Alberto de Salvatierra, Director, Center for Civilization and Assistant Professor of Urbanism and Data in Architecture, University of Calgary SAPL (Calgary, Canada)

The CBDX Series is made possible through the support of Stantec, a global design and delivery firm. Selected entries will be exhibited in September 2021 and published in Fall 2021. CBDX is organized, in part, by the Center for Civilization.

Competition details can be found at cbdx-series.com

Media contact

Vita Leung
Manager, Marketing and Communications
School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
University of Calgary
403-220-5323 | vita.leung@ucalgary.ca

About CBDX

CBDX — City Building Design Experiments and Exhibitions — is an initiative by the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. The goals of CBDX are to collectively tackle the big issues of tomorrow, initiate change, foster new ideas, and showcase innovation — the future of city building. CBDX explores two topics annually through an international design ideas competition, resulting in bi-annual exhibitions and an annual publication. sapl.ucalgary.ca/cbdx 

About the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape  

The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) offers undergraduate and professional graduate studies in architecture, planning and landscape architecture, as well as research degrees and post-professional programs. SAPL delivers a distinctly different design school experience that combines a rich, interdisciplinary design-based philosophy with an entrepreneurial mindset and a deep commitment to working with industry stakeholders, community leaders, at local, national, and international levels to address some of society’s biggest challenges in new, creative ways. SAPL recently opened a pilot satellite research hub in downtown Calgary called the City Building Design Lab.

Find out more at sapl.ucalgary.ca and follow @ucalgarysapl on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is a global intellectual hub located in Canada’s most enterprising city. In our spirited, high-quality learning environment, students thrive in programs made rich by research, hands-on experiences and entrepreneurial thinking. Our strategy drives us to be recognized as one of Canada’s top five research universities, engaging the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.' For more information, visit ucalgary.ca/eyeshigh.

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at ucalgary.ca/mediacentre.